Last week, as you've no doubt heard, the Major League Soccer Players Union released the salaries for almost every player in the league. The Vancouver Whitecaps, as twenty-nine of their thirty players had their compensation divulged by their own players' union.
This is an annual tradition from the MLSPU dating back as long as I've been following the league. It's a nice bit of disclosure for both players and fans, as the teams themselves guard the terms of their contract with great zeal. It's also a reminder for fans of this league that many of these players earn noticeably less money than the fans do, a reminder which we could all use sometimes. Half the players on the Whitecaps probably don't even make enough money to buy a condo in this town.
There are already dozens of copies of the Whitecaps salary list floating around the Internet, so after the jump I'll add one more. That said, I like to think I put them in a bit of a more useful format: compiled in a nice, usable HTML table with sortable columns rather than the MLSPU's PDF nightmare. You'll also get my thoughts on the team's salary structure, none of which are exactly transcendent, as well as a few reminders on the value of this information and just how we should parse it.
Before we begin, a few notes on the salary table:
- Each column is sortable, so you can sort this table by position, last name, base salary, guaranteed compensation, and any cap exemption status by simply clicking on the header. It will be instantly familiar to people who've used these sorts of tables before.
- Per Major League Soccer rules, only the first twenty contracts count towards the Major League Soccer salary cap. Generation Adidas players and homegrown players automatically count in the "last ten": i.e. they do not count against the salary cap regardless of their earnings. Designated players have cap hits of $335,000 regardless of their actual salary. Therefore the Whitecaps' actual salary cap hit will be far less than the totals listed. Major League Soccer does not release details of what contracts count where, and therefore any estimate of the team's cap hit is speculation. I will not engage in such guesswork here, but for a very educated guess see this article by Mark Weber.
- Midfielder Peter Vagenas is not included on this list because he had not signed when the Major League Soccer Players Union collated their list of salaries; therefore his compensation is unavailable. On his most recent contract, Vagenas made $158,400 per season. However, it's obviously unlikely he signed in Vancouver for this much: a conservative guess has him between $50,000 and $75,000.
- Finally, a quick definition of terms. "2011 Base Salary" is exactly what it sounds like: the basic amount the player gets paid per season not counting any performance-related incentives. "2011 Guaranteed Salary" is the base salary plus any signing bonus or guaranteed bonuses divided over the length of the contract. For example, Eric Hassli signed a four-year contract with a base salary of $660,000 per year and guaranteed bonuses of $960,000: his "2011 Guaranteed Salary" is therefore $660,000 + ($960,000 / 4) or $900,000.
|Pos||Player Name||2011 Base Salary||2011 Guaranteed Salary||Cap Exemption|
|MF||Nanchoff, Michael||$60,000.00||$95,000.00||Generation Adidas|
|MF||Teibert, Russell||$50,004.00||$55,604.00||Generation Adidas|
|FW||Hassli, Eric||$660,000.00||$900,000.00||Designated Player|
|FW||Salgado, Omar||$80,000.00||$121,868.67||Generation Adidas|
|2011 Major League Soccer Salary Cap||$2,675,000.00|
Having listed the information, my own quick thoughts on the Vancouver Whitecaps' salary structure:
- Generation Adidas contracts can obviously represent huge value. Omar Salgado, who looks like a decent Major League Soccer-calibre forward already and could develop into a leading star, has a guaranteed salary of $121,868.67 completely off the cap. Generation Adidas contracts do not have a fixed length but last until Major League Soccer announces the player has "graduated"; given how young Salgado is the Whitecaps could have a fine forward for three or four seasons essentially for free.
- Major League Soccer, in common with most professional sports leagues, counts signing bonuses against the salary cap (so the "2011 Guaranteed Compensation" column is the one that matters for cap planning purposes). Under those rules, it's interesting that Jay DeMerit is not a designated player: he has a presumptive cap hit of $350,000 but the designated player cut-off is $335,000. This may be a case where the obscurity of MLS cap rules is working against us, or it may just be that the Whitecaps didn't think it worth using a DP spot to save $15,000 on their salary cap: one-third of a standard player contract.
- On the other hand, the DP rules mean that we shouldn't be spooked by Eric Hassli's $900,000 guaranteed compensation. The DP rules mean that Hassli's cap hit is $335,000 period. He could be making fifteen million dollars a season and having a new gold-plated Ferrari delivered for every home game; it wouldn't make a damned difference to this team on the field. Above $335,000, it's all up to how much the owners want to spend on a given player. It doesn't effect the team's competitiveness in any way.
- Alexandre Morfaw's $90,000 salary probably makes him the best-paid player in the USL Premier Development League. My god, what a dud that is. By definition he has to be the most overpaid player on this list: cap hit of ninety grand, value of zero. Even if Morfaw was healthy, nobody figured the 22-year-old for an MLS starter and yet he's being paid starter's money. The consolation is that contracts in Major League Soccer aren't guaranteed, so if the Whitecaps need his cash of his roster spot they can waive him without muss or fuss.
- Yes, Joe Cannon has a pretty enormous contract. But anybody using this as an argument to start him in goal is on drugs. He makes the same amount of money whether he's starting or on the bench. Using a player's salary to determine what role he should play on the team is the sort of thing that leads to a new Toronto FC.
- As has been observed, Alain Rochat and Terry Dunfield have contracts of such great value that it's hard to believe they didn't get a little extra under the table on their USSF D2 deals. On the other hand, signing Morfaw in 2010 sure didn't save the Whitecaps any money. Mouloud Akloul has a very healthy deal given the injury he's coming off and Davide Chiumiento is the third-best-paid player on the team. It's hard to say whether the Whitecaps paid their USSF D2 guys heavily to save on the salary cap later, or whether Rochat and Dunfield just have crappy agents.
- Best value contracts on the Whitecaps this season: Rochat ($150,000), Dunfield ($65,000), Greg Janicki ($45,000), and Russell Teibert ($50,004 and no cap hit).
- Worst value contracts on the Whitecaps this season: Cannon ($195,500), John Thorrington ($194,700), and Camilo ($127,920). Camilo in particular seems like he should already be packing for Montreal when they pick him in the expansion draft this winter.